Digital Packs

Digital Packs Banner Digital Packs Banner

Mood and Mind

8 inspirational books to make you happier

Whether you want to get rich, build a business or deal with stress and conflict at work, we’ve found these inspirational books to help you get there – here’s a crib sheet on each to help you decide which is for you

Have you been feeling overwhelmed, stuck in a monotonous work routine or in desperate need of some quiet? To save your time and money, we’ve summarised our pick of the best eight inspirational books that have crossed the desk at Healthista Towers so you can choose which is right for you.

I Want to be Calm: How to De-Stress by Harriet Griffey,

I-want-to-be-calm-8-happy-books-by-healthistaWhat’s the big idea?
To learn how to effectively practise mindfulness— paying attention to your life on purpose. The book is filled with fun illustrations, informative diagrams and inspirational quotes to help put your mind and body at ease.

What will I need to do?
Slow down and embrace how you feel. There is no ‘to-do list’ or specific diet or exercise regimes, but Griffey encourages the reader to set aside some time during each day to break away from technology and sit with your thoughts as well as:

  • Eat meals at consistent intervals to ward off negative effects of low blood sugar
  • Focus more on ‘being’ rather than doing
  • Be more conscious of your everyday habits (e.g. diet and caffeine intake)

Who’s the author?
Harriet Griffey is a journalist, writer and author based in London. Aside from writing about health-related issues for UK national newspapers and magazines, Griffey is also an accredited coach with Youth at Risk.

READ MORE: 8 habits of calm people 

Steal a trick: Quit your bad breathing habits.
People tend to take more shallow breaths than necessary. By only using the upper part of the lung’s capacity, shallow breathing not only exhausts muscular energy but also makes the oxygen-carbon dioxide interchange more acidic, which can lead to weaker muscles.

Practise mindful, fuller breaths by lying on the floor with your knees bent or sitting upright in a chair. Take a slow breath in through your nose lasting five seconds. Hold your breath and count to five before exhaling through your mouth and then repeat the cycle ten times. It seems simple enough, right? Taking your breathing from automatic to conscious is one of the easiest ways to refocus and de-stress.

Taking your breathing from automatic to conscious is one of the easiest ways to refocus and de-stress.

Hardwiring Happiness: How to reshape your brain and your life by Rick Hanson

hardwiring-happiness-8-happy books-by-healthistaWhat’s the big idea?
Taking in positive experiences can change your mindset and improve your life. Hanson discusses how the brain has a reputation for holding on to bad/negative experiences more than positive ones. In situations the mind can either: let be, let go or let in. The book focuses on the letting in and making a conscious effort in taking in the good moments— like a warm cup of coffee or a good laugh with a mate. Even in small doses, like a dozen seconds at a time, Hanson writes that positivity can rewire your brain for happiness.

What will I need to do?
The four-step mindfulness exercise helps strengthen ‘the deliberate internalization of positive experiences in implicit memory.’  To put simply, the steps follow the acronym ‘HEAL’:

  1. Have a positive experience
  2. Enrich it
  3. Absorb it
  4. Link positive and negative material

For example, let’s say you are invited to a late night pizza run with some friends. As you sit there enjoying your meal, take a few seconds more to intensify the positives of the situation: maybe the crust is extra doughy just like you love or perhaps the restaurant isn’t as crowded as usual. Next, absorb the experience— Hanson suggests to visualize the moment as gold dust sinking in to your skin or to imagine you are placing the moment like a necklace into a jewellery box.

Who’s the author anyway?
Rick Hanson, Ph.D. is a neuropsychologist and author of several books focused on the inner skills of personal well-being and psychological growth. On top of being a past speaker at Oxford, Stanford and Harvard, Dr. Hanson is also the founder of the Wellspring Institute for Neuroscience and Contemplative Wisdom.

Steal a trick: Mind the ‘low-hanging fruit’
You can work on being more attentive even in the most ordinary moments of your day. Small things that often go unnoticed can be rethought as ‘low-hanging fruit,’—positive moments always in your view if you look hard enough. Such ‘fruit’ could be the sweet scent of baking pastries, a shared joke or your favorite song playing on the radio. Hanson says to treat these ‘fruits’ as little mind-pleasing treats that you can nibble on throughout your day.

Changing the Conversation: The 17 Principles of Conflict Resolution by Dana Caspersen

changing-the-conversation-8-happy-books-by-healthistaWhat’s the big idea?
Learning new strategies to resolve conflicts faster and more efficiently. The grand motto of the book is: ‘you can’t change how other people act in a conflict, and often you can’t change your situation. But you can change what you do.’ Through various exercises, the reader will learn how to transform the way conflict is expressed. The goal is that the 17 steps will guide one to stop seeing certain situations as conflicts, but rather as opportunities.

What will I need to do?
Each of the 17 chapters introduces two opposing examples of actions taken in the face of conflict. One action is negative like verbally attacking the other person, and the other is a positive action such as resisting the urge to attack. All the chapters include exercises where the reader can literally ‘change the conversation’ by rewriting a difficult conversation in his or her own words to fit a more understandable tone to aid resolution rather than further provoking the issue.  It’s more of an interactive workbook than a typical self-help book that asks you to participate in hypothetical situations. For example, throughout the book, you’ll be given upsetting or conflict-ridden statements and then be asked to rewrite the statement or question or write down a positive response – this works as practise for when such an event takes place in the real world.

Who’s the author?
Dana Caspersen received a master’s degree in conflict studies and meditation and is now an international mediator as well as a teacher and creator of public dialogue processes. Caspersen works with individuals and even entire communities to focus on how to react to and manage conflict in an effective manner.

Steal a trick: During conflict, let curiosity in
The next time a conflict arises either at work or at home, Casperson suggests to be more curious about the situation. Take some time and ponder a bit on some questions like:

  • What has led this person to take these actions?
  • At the heart of this, what does this person want or need?Instead of jumping straightaway to an abrupt response, being more curious can help your initial reaction be more knowledgeable than brash.

The Stress Cure: How to resolve stress, build resilience and boost your energy by Patrick Holford & Susannah Lawson

the-stress-cure-8-happy-books-by-healthistaWhat’s the big idea?
Whether it’s a demanding career, being overloaded from school, time-consuming duties of raising a family, or maybe all of the above, many adults are facing a stress epidemic. All this build up leaves many bouncing back and forth from being wired and tired. The Stress Cure aims to help free you from the constant stress trap of every day life by focusing on what makes you stressed, recovering your energy and combating anxiety altogether.

What will I need to do?
Take some time to devote to each of the six parts of the book as you explore your stress triggers and tips on how to change your diet to reduce anxiety. There is also a guide on how to build up stress resilience which includes relaxation techniques and a thorough chapter on how to better your sleep. Part six is an optional ‘Take Control: Your 30-Day Action Plan,’ that collects lessons from previous chapters into a personalised programme with an example layout of meals, exercises, supplements and sleep improvement methods to keep you on track.

READ MORE: 3 best foods to help relieve stress

Who’s the author?
Patrick Holford is a nutritionist and founder of the Institute for Optimum Nutrition in London, which is Europe’s top training centre for nutritional therapists. To this day, he has authored over 30 health books.

Susannah Lawson is a nutritional therapist, health journalist and a practitioner for HeartMath, which uses research-based practices and technologies aimed to help individuals and communities reduce stress and increase resilience through connecting the heart with science.

Steal a trick: Emotional stress release
An easy relief comes from practising emotional stress release (ESR): close your eyes and touch your ESR spots—the forehead right above the eyebrows— with your fingertips using both hands. While lightly applying pressure, think about the stressor in full detail. Your mind may start to drift, but always bring it back, thinking hard. When a few minutes have passed remove your fingertips and open your eyes. If done correctly, you should feel lighter, as the stressor has been ‘defused’ and released.

The Wealth Chef: Recipes to Make Your Money Work Hard, So You Don’t Have To by Ann Wilson

wealth-chef-8-happy-books-by-healthistaWhat’s the big idea?
Essentially a cookbook for success, The Wealth Chef narrows in how to take responsibility for your finances and grow toward financial freedom. Designed in a recipe-like nature, the book eliminates confusing finance jargon and replaces it with food and cooking themes that explain how to accelerate your wealth while eliminating debt.

the book eliminates confusing finance jargon

What will I need to do?
Set up your kitchen! And by kitchen, that means your financial knowledge. The book is chock-full of example balance sheets and easy-to-follow explanations of income, expenses, assets and liabilities and how they all interact. After your ‘kitchen’ is ready, it’s time to cook. Five ‘recipes’ are provided, each encouraging the chef (AKA the reader), to think about their goals, how to invest wisely, steps toward no more debt and other tasty snippets of useful information.

Who’s the author?
Ann Wilson is an author, speaker and trainer who after hunkering down and learning as much as she could about finance and investing, turned herself into a self-made millionaire. Now, after a previous civil engineering career, she currently teaches others how to manage, invest and secure their money.

Steal a trick: Master your financial focus
Wilson advises to polish your teeth and thoughts all at once. While brushing your teeth at night, think about the following questions:

  • What am I grateful/proud/excited for in my life right now?
  • What am I committed to in my life right now?

Now relate those questions to your wealth and money. These questions will help you reevaluate and engage how you presently feel— a great way to build a foundation for the future and to then take action. Try to keep brushing your teeth until you’ve answered each question.

Mindfulness: 25 Ways to Love in the Moment through Art by Christophe André

mindfulness-8-happy-books-by-healthistaWhat’s the big idea?
The book is a comprehensive combination of artwork and meditation cues. Geared to help the reader slow down, every other page or so is printed with full color paintings that are later analysed and pondered upon in the text. Christophe André gently leads the reader to look inward in order to ultimately experience outward. 25 lessons focus on strengthening meditation skills, improving mindfulness and discovering how to cope better with emotions through art.

What will I need to do?
Make this book your new tag-along buddy. Whether travelling on the Tube or snug in bed, the book is practical and if read thoroughly and thoughtfully, could make you see things and yourself clearer. Take your time with each lesson and the artwork that accompanies it. Be curious and really think about what the artwork makes you feel or what thoughts it triggers. The more you immerse yourself within the text and art, the more you will get out.

Who’s the author?
Christophe André has been practising meditation for many years and is a French psychiatrist focusing on emotional disorders such as anxiety and depression. He is a bestselling author and considers Mindfulness one of his most personal and original books.

Steal a trick: Relearn how to ‘let go’
You may have been thinking about how to ‘let things go’ in a counterproductive way. Instead of thinking of letting go as a way of distracting yourself from reality, consider letting go as loosening the need for control. Be present, but try not to change things right away. André suggests to imagine yourself as a swimmer, taking a pause from breaststrokes and allow the current to move you instead. You are not passive, but rather present in the moment— ultimately letting go but aware all at once.

The Little Book of Quiet by Tiddy Rowan

the-little-book-of-quiet-8-happy-books-by-healthistaWhat’s the big idea?
Noise pollution and sound disturbances in everyday life —for example, at the office or during a morning commute— are making it more difficult than ever to have quiet time. You don’t need to be an introvert to enjoy the peace of mind quietness brings. In fact, this book explores what it truly means to be an introvert and extrovert and how such personality qualities are not what they may seem. With small snippets of quietness-related facts, quotes and tips, the compact book explores the many benefits and strategies to find your own quiet time.

What will I need to do?
You guessed right: be quiet. Not only verbally, but mentally as well. Dial down what you say and focus more on what you hear and think. Practising mindfulness is key in this book, whether that is through taking five minutes out of your day to sit in a park and listening to nature’s sounds or reserving a conference room in the office to help yourself focus on a project. This book will help you think about where you gain your energy from— like engaging with others or through insightful solitude— and then allows you to use who you are to your own quiet-yielding advantage.

Who’s the author?
Tiddy Rowan first practised meditation 44 years ago and has been a devoted student of mindfulness ever since. She finds mind development interesting and has pursued the subject through research and writing about human behaviour.

Steal a trick: Change up your playlists
While trekking out on your morning commute you may run into a lot of noise: loud conversations on the train, construction machinery drilling away or the sharp honking of car horns. Instead of using loud music to cover up the entire bustle, try listening to natural, soothing sounds like rainfall or a babbling creek. This creates a sense of quiet time during possibly the loudest period of the day.

My New Business: A Busy Woman’s Guide to Start-Up Success by Wendy Kerr

my-new-business-8-happy-books-by-healthistaWhat’s the big idea?
Changing careers and starting up your own business can seem like a larger-than-life idea and an overwhelming thought. This guide aims to break down what you want and see if you have what it takes to start from scratch. Full of shortcuts, tips and insightful interviews from women who have their own successful start-ups, the book gives any woman an intensive yet realistic foundation to help move them toward career happiness.

What will I need to do?
While reading all five parts of the book, be honest with yourself in order to figure out what you really want with your business and to make sure it is doable. These may seem like big, introspective questions, but the book makes it easy with various sections dedicated to self-analysis, game plans for success and research on how your business idea will fit into the competitive market.

Who’s the author?
Wendy Kerr has guided 1,500 women to rethink what they want in their careers and helped them pursue their start-up business dreams. She is the owner of her own coaching and consulting company, Corporate Crossovers and is on a mission to help 10,000 more women reorganise their own working lives.

READ MORE: 7 things wealthy women do

Steal a trick: Get crafty!
If you have trouble pinpointing what you want your business to be like, grab your scissors and some magazines and make a vision board! When you see an image or quote you like, don’t overthink— just cut and glue away. Don’t think you have time? Make a fun Friday night out of it with your friends and get your inspiration flowing in a fun, relaxed way.

READ MORE: 3 self-help rules you need to break

Depression Awareness Week runs from April 18-25th


14 ways to boost your mood without drugs

The 30 section happiness trick to do right now

How Kate Moss’s yoga teacher stays happy every day

Like this article? Sign up to our newsletter to get more articles like this delivered straight to your inbox.

More Healthista Content